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Debate on Media Freedom in Doha, Qatar

From today’s Gulf Times:

Debate on Qatari press law

The Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) will hold a roundtable discussion on the Qatari press law that dates back to 1979, on Wednesday, at The Ritz-Carlton Doha, an official said yesterday.

According to the official, under the discussion will be the need for a Qatari media, and the view concerning modification and changes to the accrual Press Law, in order for it to match the requirements of the current era.

Discussions will be moderated by DCMF deputy director general Maryam al-Khater, while senior media officials of the country, editor-in-chiefs, senior journalists, heads of media organisations and others are expected to be in attendance.

After an introductory presentation of the most-recent study prepared by DCMF on the Press Law, comprising recommendations, suggestions, and analyses, the floor will be opened to what is expected to be a “vigorous debate”, the official said.

“The DCMF calls on all media specialists to exercise their right of expression by participating in this gathering and sharing their thoughts about the possibility of amending the negative provisions of the law for journalists’ rights as well as adding provisions which respond to their ambitions,” the official added.

The event coincides with the National Day for Human Rights, which falls on November 11 every year.

There was an earlier report, on June 24th, that most of the original members of the DCMF had resigned:

Media Freedom Centre team leaves office

DOHA: Robert Ménard, director- general of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom and his team have left the Centre.

“We no longer have either the freedom or the resources to do our work,” said Menard, in a statement issued yesterday.

The heads of the assistance, research and communications departments have also left the Centre, said the statement.

The Center was set up on the initiative of H H Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned and Reporters Without Borders in December 2007.

Ménard, who became director-general on April 1, 2008, was the founder of Reporters Without Borders, which he headed for 23 years.

I imagine this is going to be a very interesting “vigorous” debate, of interest to all those who write – or blog – on Qatar. One of the things I notice in both Kuwait and Qatar is that in the interest of self-preservation, the newspapers self-censor. For example, when a crime is committed, if it is an Asian, or even, rarely, a westerner, the name of the criminal can be printed. If it is a local citizen, they do not print the names, not ever, unless it is a rare case where the defendant is convicted and appeals – on rare occasions, the name will appear then. In order to spare the family the embarrassment, I have been told, but I would think that the fear of embarrassing the family would have a strong deterrent effect on young men, for example, who think it is OK to abduct, rape and humiliate young men and women, without fear of having their crime made public.

In Kuwait, they publish the crimes committed, at least. In Qatar, you would think from reading the papers, that these crimes don’t exist. They do. They aren’t reported.

I think it is very cool that in Qatar, many of these issues are opened for public debate, as in this media debate, and in the ongoing Doha Debate series.

November 9, 2009 - Posted by | Blogging, Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Doha, ExPat Life, Free Speech, Language, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Political Issues, Privacy, Values

2 Comments »

  1. We often think that places like China have a tight control over the media but you’d be surprised at how much news is suppressed in other seemingly open countries.

    Comment by Mathai | November 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. Even in my own country, the champion of freedom of the press. Americans mostly get the news for which there is camera footage. If there is no footage – no news! It’s why I love NPR – National Public Radio – they have more international coverage and alternate perspectives. I may not agree with all of them, but it’s good for me to be exposed to other opinions!

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 10, 2009 | Reply


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